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Circulation isn’t always the first thing we think about when it comes to our health and wellbeing. But circulation is the powerful force behind just about every function in the body. As you age, the health of your circulation can change for a variety of reasons that can be due to natural aging or lifestyle factors. Regardless, there’s a reason to pay special attention to your circulation, especially as you age.
When we think about blood flow, it’s important to note that different parts of the body are getting blood flow according to need. We have a limited amount of blood in the body, and it needs to be used efficiently. And as you age, Nitric Oxide, a molecule responsible for dilating your blood vessels, declines, which can impair your blood flow, ultimately impacting different areas of your health. If that isn’t enough to encourage you to take action, below are several ways blood flow and the circulatory system are important to your overall health:
Circulation for Better Energy Production
The oxygen moved through the body provides the cells with the energy they need to function. (14) This energy produced by the cells is what gives the human body the energy it needs to perform all of its essential functions. This includes everything from talking to thinking to movement. (15) Maintaining a healthy circulatory system can help us be more energetic and contribute to the ability to lead an active lifestyle.
Circulation for Better Brain Health
Our brain has many blood vessels, and despite its size compared to other organs of the body, it receives 15-20% of our blood supply. That’s because the brain needs blood and oxygen to survive. Therefore, the heart works to supply blood to the brain constantly. Studies have shown that every minute 750-1,000 milliliters of blood flow through the brain by way of two pairs of arteries: internal carotid arteries and vertebral arteries. When blood flow is impaired because of arterial and vascular function, it can lead to blockages and other issues, impacting brain health.
Circulation for Better Blood Pressure
In addition to helping blood pump through the body, keeping the circulatory system healthy has many other benefits. One of these benefits is maintaining healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure is the result of the pressure of blood pumping through blood vessels being consistently too high. (16) The circulatory system plays a part in maintaining that pressure. The two numbers that make up a blood pressure reading consist of systolic pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) is created as the heart pumps blood out into the body. Diastolic pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) is created when the heart rests between beats. (17) Reducing high blood pressure leads to improved cardiovascular health. (18)
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising can help in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Another way to help maintain healthy blood pressure levels is through dietary nitrate. (19) Nitrate can be obtained by eating fruits and vegetables. (20) It is also available in a supplement form. (21)
Circulation for Consistent Body Temperature
The circulatory system also plays an important role in maintaining proper body temperature. When your hands and feet feel cold or go numb, it may be a sign of poor circulation. (22)Maintaining proper circulation may help these symptoms.
Circulation for Healthier Hair, Skin, and Nails
Circulation also plays a role in maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. Those with poor circulation may find that they are losing more hair than normal. (23) Brittle fingernails may also be a sign of poor circulation. (24) Poor circulation may also result in dry skin. Improving the circulatory system may improve the appearance of these three parts of the body.
Circulation for Better Functioning Immune System
The immune system is also known as the lymphatic system. The immune system’s function is to help protect the body from illness and disease.
Parts of the immune system that may be affected by the health of the circulatory system include the lymph nodes and white blood cells. There are many types of white blood cells, which are made by bone marrow. These cells help the body fight infection and disease. (25) Lymph nodes are where white blood cells are stored in the body. (26)
Having healthy circulation allows the cells and other substances that are part of the immune system to move freely throughout the body. (27) So maintaining healthy circulation could lead to a boost in the function of the immune system.